An lightly ampliified soudbite, is my interpretation of the quoted statement.
At the very least, you have to ascertain several things here if you want to hold an informed view on it:
1. you have to define categories of photographic endeavour;
2. you need to define the markets by genre;
3. you certainly have to know how much money the would-be client has at his disposal.
I donít intend to do that work for you because anyone with any imagination can figure it out for themselves. What I think is worth stating is that merely being in a business that lets you collect payment for services rendered doesnít make you professional. Professionalism entails codes of conduct, accepted levels of competence recognized withing the profession and, generally, qualifications of some valid form or another usually coupled with an apprenticeship or applied training.
Itís easy to scoff at plumbers, sparks, car-mechanics and brickies etc. as being non-professionals and just glorified workmen ; thatís far from correct. It takes (or at least it used to take in my time) a long period of apprenticeship before a young person could identify himself with any of those trade descriptions, and it wasnít any easier for photographers. In fact, when I started at the very first strokes of the 60s, it was generally an almost unheard of job into which it was extremely difficult to find a path outwith hatches, matches and despatches, should you have wanted to go there.
Focussing on photography, we realise that it faces different challenges to many other trades or professions. Everyone knows that dentists and doctors and celebrities, to mention but a few of the usual suspects, can own far more expensive equipment than many professional photographers can afford; some of these non-pros are actually capable of producing excellent work, as do many other people from different walks of life if only with normal equipment. So it doesnít come down to money. If anything, it comes down to technical expertise and aesthetic sense or discrimination. The latter can be found in any number of different places, if the former canít. Beyond those two factors, and where it starts to become complicated, is in the realm of responsibility. By that, I mean responsibility not only to a Ďclientí but also to the places and the people where the photography is being carried out. Just getting the shot, and the hell with the damage one might do in the process is not, in my mind, professional conduct. Exit the pap from the list.
Photographers engaged in commercial work such as fashion, catalogue, medical, engineering and similar skilled and specific genres demanding concentrated and specialised skills arenít, in my mind at least, at much risk from the amateur snapperís attentions. Where the risks are high is in genres such as stock, where there is now no barrier to participation and the market is driven ever downwards by the forces of competition not between photographers, but between the peddlers of photography. Itís in no photographerís interest, neither pro nor am, that prices are driven south. Itís in every photographerís interest that they head northwards. Unfortuntately, though, there is ever the element whose only motivation is Ďappearing in printí, an understandable trait with unimagined serious consequences for an entire workforce of professional photographers, usually particularly skilled and specialized ones because entry into successful libraries was once very selective. So, what happens? The pond is poisoned and many of its inhabitants die. Evolution or natural selection, anyone? Yes, seriously so, but backwards to the swamp. Can anyone now claim that the penny agencies have superior content to those boasted by the original Image Bank and Tony Stone outfits? Do the pap pic agencies have the same amazing content as Magnum, SIPA, Vu etc. etc.? Just ask which makes the money, which have folded or are on the brink.
Itís fashionable within some circles to argue that quality of work is king, that it is the only factor that makes or breaks a photographer. Not so; economics are far stronger factors than individual snappers. Deprive a talented professional snapper of clients and he may as well take his gear to the closest pawn shop, though in the digital age, he might have a hard time getting one to accept it. So do pros fear amateurs? In many ways, yes. Not for their skills or lack of, but for their damaging influence on the markets.
Many say thatís fine, simply the way of the world; extend that thinking a little to medicine or law: would anyone feel so comfortable with the concept if they required the services of a possibly unregulated doctor or solicitorÖ? What separates these schools from photography? Lack of respect. And whose fault is that, I have to ask?